CD Review of Traneing In by John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio

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Traneing In
starstarstarstarno star Label: Prestige
Released: 2007
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It was jazz's finest hour: Dinosaurs roamed the earth, and in New York’s clubs, Monk, Miles, Sonny Rollins, and Dexter Gordon played nightly with henchmen Cannonball Adderley and this soon-to-be giant himself. In a few short years, John Coltrane would establish his spot in the jazz pantheon; both with his own Giant Steps, and as a member of Davis’ band on Kind of Blue. Soon enough, of course, the world would change, and mostly-unlistenable free jazz and fusion would eclipse classic acoustic jazz’s popularity, thus mortally wounding the entire genre's commercial viability.

This record, cut in the summer of 1957, was Coltrane’s second as a bandleader, and finds him quietly confident and meshing well with pianist Red Garland and future Kind of Blue bandmate, bassist Paul Chambers. Remastered from the original tapes to 24-bit digital by original engineer Rudy Van Gelder, the sound's definitely a half-century vintage, but for Trane devotees who put up with scratchy vinyl for decades, this CD makes you a fly on the wall in the studio, hearing harmonic nuances lost to the mud of time and dull grooves. Perhaps the best part of the reissue is the remastered liner notes by pundit and keeper-of-jazz-history Ira Gitler, whose 2006 update to the hipster bunk he passed off as notes when the record first came out serves as a nice translation – including some newly added, tasty historical nuggets which finally, after half a century, put the record in its proper perspective.

Traneing In is a nice combination of smooth ballads and smoking-hot jams, none hotter than the jokingly titled "Soft Lights and Sweet Music," no doubt some reference to the club scene happening in Manhattan. Garland's on top of his game here, and the musical interplay between him and the sax superstar is the NFL equivalent of Joe Montana throwing the first 10 TD passes to Jerry Rice: Poetic and sweet, with even bigger things to come. The title track – named by Gitler himself – opens with an extended Garland solo; the song stretches out for 12 minutes, nearly a third of the short-but-sweet total time of the CD. One has to wonder why Trane didn't come out himself, reed blazing, as he would soon do at the beginning of most every album. Perhaps self-confidence issues prevented it, or perhaps respect for Garland. Or perhaps the person at Prestige in charge of sequencing records had no respect for the budding genius. Still, it's a classic, quirks and all.

~Mojo Flucke, PhD